Wednesday, February 27, 2008

1 in 4 American Adults Are Evangelicals

Via Pandagon and Pharyngula, I find this New York Times article on a new Pew poll.

A couple of observations. "Evangelical" Christians are 26.3 percent of American adults. That's the largest block in their poll, challenged only by Catholics at 23.9 percent.

The Catholics are followed by Mormons and Jews, both at 1.7%, and we atheists at 1.6%.

The New York Times says that

The rise of the unaffiliated does not mean that Americans are becoming less religious, however. Contrary to assumptions that most of the unaffiliated are atheists or agnostics, most described their religion “as nothing in particular.”

I don't understand how "nothing in particular" is being touted as a win for religion. These are folks who are taking the poll and not wishing to commit to anything, so they opt for option D. None of the above, and the NYT thinks these guys have religion.

Religion is a passion, almost a compulsion, where I come from, and I guess I just can't grok how "Meh" is a religious group.

On the other hand, the evangelicals are crowing their "victory" in the Grand Struggle of Ideas:

“The trend is toward more personal religion, and evangelicals offer that,” said Mr. Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University, who explained that evangelical churches tailor many of their activities for youth. “Those losing out are offering impersonal religion and those winning are offering a smaller scale: mega-churches succeed not because they are mega but because they have smaller ministries inside.”

Many evangelicals offer what seems to be personal religion on the surface, but below that surface it turns out to be a culture of values imposed by leaders upon their followers and enforced by public shaming and nosiness. No thank you. I'm not even going to discuss those folk who lie to their flock about the world.

And I'd like to see what sort of church activities are tailored for the youth. I bet it's all Christian rock and the sort of speakers who act like they've just mainlined twelve pots of coffee, when they aren't condescending to their audience. Getting young people involved in the political process, fine, as long as they aren't used to propagate mean and hateful policies. Gathering them all into a gymnasium for some big-spectacle speeches with little content, I'll pass.

And about those mega-churches: Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon suspects that the draw from the mega-churches is that they can offer services (such as day care) that smaller churches can't, and they also tend to poach from your friendly neighborhood church. The recruitment phenomenon is not limited to mega-churches, but wherever it is found, there is tremendous pressure on the members of the church to bring new faces to the next service. When someone shows up without a new buddy, he or she is subject to lots of disapproval, like something's wrong with him or her.

Even the moderate and friendly evangelicals, like Fred Clark at Slacktivist, see themselves as beggars telling other beggars where they found bread. That's great for them. I just deny that I am a beggar, that's all. I'm not hungry for the bread they are telling me about. All the accomplishments of the human race, the art, the music, the technologies, and the wonders of the natural world, the great burgeoning of life on this planet, are apparently not good enough for them. Those glories, mundane as they may be, are enough for me.

I won't stop the 71.4% of American adults from going to church. I'd just appreciate it if they would stop pressuring me to go, like trying to get me to buy pot from them. They won't ever let it drop, and I've just got to be polite and keep refusing.

Update: I see that Mom sent me this review in an email several days ago. I guess I should check my email more often. Sorry, Mom!

No comments: